Pleased with my T400 since I got it in October of last year. I don't believe you can get a better laptop for the money, despite the fact that this series (both older, my generation, and new models) definitely have their issues - as I have come to discover with long term use of this laptop and direct hands on comparison with the newer T510 (also with discrete graphics). Do not take this lightly. I like to consider myself a power user: I have a discerning taste when it comes to performance and I put it through it's paces with different usage patterns and overall heavy/demanding use.
The fact that the current generation is significantly cheaper (about $1100 for a loaded T410 compared to my loaded T400 at $1250) all while adding a variety of small albeit appreciated usability improvements (keyboard, trackpad, etc etc...), eSATA, DisplayPort and the latest generation of i5 / i7 processors make it all too easy to further recommend.
Now for a bit of a further in-depth review of what I currently own:
- overall business design, this thing caters to the computer user. A matte 16:10 display, classic non-blingy design, custom system icon panel (based on your configuration). Nothing gets in your way.
- enhanced durability, it feels like a tank, and apparently it is. The display doesn't flex at all, and neither does the keyboard. It has holes in it for when you spill something on it.
- Keyboard, beautiful, zero flex, easy to type on and most importantly many add-on usability features such as hotkeys for turning the display off, putting the computer to sleep, back / forward web navigation, etc... all while being *perfectly* laid out
- customization, you can customize almost every aspect of your laptop directly from the manufacturer, ideal for those like me who know *exactly* what they want
- Trackpoint, not for everyone, but I love the nipple
- battery & power management, despite what you think I'm not *that* nerdy. I don't know exactly what type of proprietary hardware / ACPI deal Lenovo have created, but this thing is great. It sips battery despite having a 35W T series processor. I get 6-7 hours (drawing between 9 and 14W) with my 9-cell and a somewhat dim display (4/15) with WiFi on under moderate use. A friend of mine has a P series processor (25W) with a similar build and she gets 8-10 hours with a bright display.
- Heat and noise, no heat on the wrist rests or keyboard whatsoever. All observations point to amazing design / efficient cooling. The bottom gets warm while plugged in, but stays comfortable. On battery / forced onto lowest CPU settings it stays cool to the touch all over. The fan is configured to reduce noise (a Power Management option) which means mine probably gets a little warmer than the average, more aggressively cooled T400. The fan is quite quiet compared to the vast majority of laptops, even if the device is hot. As a silent PC enthusiast I approve. Noticably quieter yet with my SSD instead of the 2.5" Western Digital disk. The only thing quieter might be a passively cooled Dell Mini 10 with SSD.
- performance, up to the fastest processor of it's generation, optional discrete graphics (albeit not the best). It chews through what I throw at it. Just a word of warning - the graphics are mediocre, not for a true gamer. That said, I haven't used my graphics card at all. Just comforted by the fact that I could ask something of it if I needed to. Have a desktop for that, which is much more economical in the end.
- support, drivers / applications are kept reasonably up-to-date, the most recent bringing Windows 7 support towards the end of the T400 life. All easily downloaded via an up-to-date table found on the Lenovo site, or their own ThinkVantage Update utility (automatically downloads and installs things from a list much like Windows Update).
- the display is not great for the average consumer. If you're a huge TV/display enthusiast (like I am somewhat), it's a bad idea if you intend to watch most of your media on your laptop. I have a 1440 x 900px LED backlit display. The resolution is great for work, and the LED backlighting improved battery life but doesn't do much for the colours it produces. Overall poor viewing angles. I have a somewhat stuck pixel I noticed upon very close inspection. That said I'm satisfied.
- the speakers. Just like I'm into video quality, I'm also pretty big into audio. The average business users aren't, and it reflects in the tinny crap of an excuse these laptops include. Probably not far off par for consumer laptops in general - at least compared to what you *could* have with a decent pair of speakers or headphones. Moving along...
- I once thought Lenovo's usability software was the best thing since sliced bread. Well it isn't true. Keeping what is running to a minimum is best, for battery and usability. Thus I only run the hotkey utility (for my OSD for volume / brightness), and the Lenovo Power Manager w/ driver. Nothing but problems with their Access Connections (WiFi management) software in my previous Vista installation, so I left it out. Similarly ThinkVantage is a complete waste of time for me personally, and it just uses cycles / RAM.
Using their power software is just ok - Windows power management is just as good if not better, however some features such as as current battery drain wattage meter are really useful when trying to figure out how to bed reduce your draw. I'm definitely satisfied on this front - much better than any other option on the market. Might even fit under 'the good' above.
- I'm very picky. There is a small bit of flex on the front of my right wrist rest. Probably due to the fact that you have the removable disk drive slot there, weakening the overall chassis. My friends T400 doesn't seem to suffer from this weakness. I hope they improved this overall design in the T410. Did I mention I was very picky?
- You must remove the keyboard to upgrade the RAM. I got 2GB in one dimm for an eventual upgrade. I probably never will upgrade - due to the fact that I should never need to. Very picky.
- Somewhat heavy, especially with a 9-cell. But I can't complain.
- My T400 seems to suffer from an annoying graphics card driver issue which leads to both discrete and onboard cards being activated on Energy Saving graphics mode when coming out of sleep / standby (this can be corrected by switching to High Performance and then back again)
I don't believe my friend's laptop suffers from this. Might have something to do with the fact that it has been upgraded from Vista to 7 (as opposed to a full re-format / install).
- I spent too much time thinking about a laptop.
- Along with my recent SSD purchase I couldn't be happier with this laptop. Although I sometimes wish I went with a P series processor instead of the T series (for the improved battery life), I do use my laptop a lot more often while plugged in - and will be relying on it even more in the future as a desktop replacement at a new part-time residence. The additional performance can't hurt in that respect.
Anonymous: You can fix that screen issue in power options settings, just dont allow it to go dimm after xx MIN, ON or Off only not "DIMM AFTER 2min, etc.. Nov 11, 12
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